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Undergraduate Program Assessment Plan


1. Student Content-Learning Evaluation
Starting in the 2016-2017 academic year, The Department of Geology is implementing a direct assessment of geoscience-content learning with our undergraduate majors.  This pre- and post-program quiz partly utilizes the community based Geosciences Concept Inventory, but it is modified with additions tailored to meet our program's learning objectives.  However, this instrument cannot capture some of the field-oriented, skill-based learning objectives in our curriculum. This includes our geoscience Learning Objectives, #2, #9, #13, #14, and #15, for example.

2. Student Performance in Courses
The following graphic illustrates how our seventeen geoscience learning objectives map to the core geology courses where those concepts and skills are taught.  Assessment of student learning is evaluated through the graded exercises, labs, and exam questions in these courses.

Note that our GEO 4700 and GEO 5200 field courses at the base of this graphic directly address every one of our program's learning objectives. The individual graded products in those courses, such as written reports and maps, provide a direct assessment of student learning for every one of our learning objectives.

Map objectives to courses

3. Student Self-Assessment Learning Evaluation
Starting in 1998, the Department of Geology implemented an assessment tool originally devised by the geology faculty at Illinois State University, which was modified to align to our Learning Objectives and our field-oriented program. It consists of a written questionnaire which is given first to students entering GEOL 3550, Sedimentation and Stratigraphy, generally the first upper-division geology course taken by majors. It is given again at the conclusion of GEOL 5200, Geology Field Camp, our program's capstone experience.  Results of the before and after versions are compared to get a sense of value-added; i.e., skills learned or improved over the program. Although an indirect assessment, the results demonstrate learning gains over the length of our program.




1. Student Evaluations of Courses and Instructors
The standardized USU course evaluation form is conducted in all courses taught by Geology faculty to allow students to evaluate both the course and the instructor.

2. Senior Exit Interview
Towards the end of spring semester, the department hosts a "feed and feedback" reception for graduating students. After a brief social, students and faculty discuss student experiences of major courses, skills acquired, relations between courses and concepts, etc. Compiled information is recorded without identifying students and results are discussed at a faculty meeting, and it often results in programmatic changes. This group format has been found to be effective, and students are relaxed and responsive.

3. College of Science Interviews and Questionnaire
Each year, the Dean of the College of Science interviews a number of majors from each department in the college. In addition, every student applying for graduation in the College of Science is given a questionnaire to complete. These collectively provide information on general student satisfaction with the degree program, courses, faculty and facilities. This information is collected anonymously and then returned to the department in the summer following graduation.

4. Self Study and External Review
The Department of Geology periodically conducts a Regents-mandated self study and external review. The self study allows the faculty to reassess the program and its direction as well as its goals and objectives. The recommendations made by the external review team are used to modify and improve the program.

5. Advisory Board
In April 2003, the Department of Geology formed an advisory board that meets annually to provide input and advice on the evolution and strategic directions of the department. The advisory board consists of members drawn from a variety of professional backgrounds, largely alumni of the department and non-alumni who have an interest in the department’s direction.

Geology Program Assessment Flowchart